Farmingdale High School student Danielle Yostpille, 16, packs up books...

Farmingdale High School student Danielle Yostpille, 16, packs up books in the basement of her home to ship for Operation Paperback. Credit: Handout

It started with just a few boxes of books, but now Danielle Yostpille, a junior at Farmingdale High School, houses more than 1,700 books in her basement -- each of which she will send to those in military service or their families.

The daughter of a Navy veteran father and a military women’s auxiliary member mother, Yostpille, 16, got the idea to collect books for the armed forces after learning about Operation Paperback from a neighbor and wanted to help its cause.

“I like to read, so I like that they donate books to families whose husband or wife serve,” she said. “I love doing it, but it’s stressful trying to find books for each family, so I try to accommodate.”

Operation Paperback is a nonprofit organization based in Pennsylvania. The organization has shipped almost 2 million books since its start in 1999. It has sent books to more than 30 locations, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Pearl Harbor.

Yostpille has been working on this since late August, after pitching the idea to Farmingdale High School principal Glen Zakian so the could place boxes in the school for donations.

Zakian, 48, of Jericho, supported the project

“She came in and was fully prepared and gave a presentation about it and I thought was a great idea .?.?.” Zakian said. “I thought being able to contribute to the men and women serving our country in a small way, but still contributing, was a wonderful idea.”

Yostpille placed two boxes in the school in order to start the collection.

“She went to UPS, got boxes, decorated the boxes, and placed the boxes in the main office and library,” said Vivian Yostpille, Danielle’s mother. “She made fliers and she wrote a letter, which was then placed in all the teachers’ mailboxes.”

Her daughter also searched for books at garage sales and solicited private donations. After collecting books, she places them in her basement, where she organizes them by genre. Once she receives addresses from Operation Paperback to send the books, she often writes a personal note to send along with the gift.

“I just tell them ‘Thank you’ for their service,” says Danielle, who will continue to collect books through Oct 31.

Once a family or service person is eligible, they can request a specific genre.

“They want children’s’ books, romance books, mystery books .?.?.” Vivian Yostpille said of her daughter’s project. “This was her little baby, but she had no idea it would mushroom into this.”

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